Man Without Qualities

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Funhouse Mirror Image II: Updates

A number of readers have noted these suspicions that the French intelligence services are behind the forged Italian documents. Rathergate has more on that point.

And here are some things that Josh Marshall has had to say. [These links thanks to Tim.]


A wonderfully droll e-mail from Michael Pollard of Scrutineer.

Joshua Micah Marshall has already refuted the Telegraph story about Rocco Martino:

Following up on the post below about Rocco Martino, a number of readers have asked about the piece that appeared Sunday about Martino and the Niger business in the Telegraph. The Telegraph piece contains some information that is accurate. But the article also relies heavily on intelligence and law enforcement sources who are using disinformation to cover for Italian intelligence. The thrust of the piece is false.

Well, that settles that!

It certainly does - at least to the evident satisfaction of Mr. Marshall! "Away with the superfluous analysis and evidence," Mr. Marshall seems to cry, "they were just window dressing, anyway!" Not only does Mr. Marshall's post display what he considers "settling" the matter, it also gives a glimpse of what a Sixty Minutes/Joshua Micah Marshall team is really capable of producing!

Bis! Bis!

AND STILL MORE: I don't think e-mailer TM (not Tom Maguire) agrees with Mr. Marshall that the French connection is so easily undone:

I think the Telegraph reporting is spot on - this was a French disinfo campaign all the way. But it's worth noting that, just because the documents are fake, it doesn't mean a sale didn't take place.

I recalled reading Josh Marshall's interview with Joe Wilson back in September '03. It was little noted at the time, but the principal reason Wilson used to pour cold water on the purported uranium sale was that there was no way it could have taken place without the French knowing about it, and they would have told us, wouldn't they? Wouldn't they? Here's the money quote:

WILSON: "... But my point being that even if the two governments (Iraq and Niger) had decided they wanted to do a clandestine transfer of uranium from one country to the other then it would be very difficult to effect without an awful lot of people knowing. Now--

TPM: Particularly the French ...

WILSON: Particularly the French. Of course, the French are going to know every step of the way. This was a French colony. The French had been part of every step of their development over the last 100 years. Even after decolonization in 1960 they were omnipresent. They were the operating partner in the consortium. And whatever you may think of the French, the French have a--nuclear energy is an important component of the French electrical power grid. They need uranium, they need to have a steady source of supply. They need to make sure that they're irreproachable in that, so they can continue to have a steady supply of uranium without running afoul of the IAEA or other international organizations. ... "


It seems to me that this would make for the sort of elegant mind-fucking clandestine operation that would appeal to the French: first, effect an illegal transfer of uranium from Niger to Iraq (in exchange for oil or weapons contracts, of course), then put some blatantly false documents into the pipeline that - on the surface - seem to document such a transfer, but which - when the forgery is finally discovered - actually completely discredit the vary notion such a thing. Very neat, very elegant.

In my opinion, the question of who authored the fraudulent Italian documents exists in curious tension with the claim by the International Atomic Energy Agency (reported in the older Newsweek article) that they were able to determine that the Italian documents were "a crude forgery" within two hours using the Google search engine:
How did they do it? "Google," said the official. The IAEA ran the name of the Niger foreign minister through the Internet search engine and discovered that he was not in office at the time the document was signed.

Has French intelligence really reached the point of not being able to determine when the Niger foreign minister took office? Does one even think that a group of Iraqi exiles, for another hypothetical example that has been tossed around, might make such an easily-verified "mistake?" - even such a group sufficiently sophisticated to pull off the rest of this scam? After all, couldn't whoever forged the documents have accessed Google as Newsweek asserts the IAEA claims it did? For that matter, how reliable is the material on that subject obtained from Google likely to be? Reliable enough so that the IAEA would depend on it in a case like this? Does the IAEA have absolute faith that the date on a Niger government document does not include a typographical error?

Strange it all was, passing strange.

FINAL DISPLACEMENT: CBS has now announced that the displaced item will not air before the election:
CBS News spokeswoman Kelli Edwards would not elaborate on why the timing of the Iraq report was considered inappropriate.

Too bad. So CBS thinks that the timing of the Iraq report was "inappropriate." Could a factor in that decision possibly have something to do with this report in the newer Newsweek article:
The network would “be a laughingstock,” said one source intimately familiar with the story.

Or maybe that's already a lost cause.

Comments: Post a Comment